Weekly Sports Update (2-20-17)
Sam McSweeney (sMcSweeney@ksuradio.com)
Bret Baker (JBaker@ksuradio.com)
Kennesaw Baseball looks for HOT start to 2017
The Owls look to carry momentum into the new season after strong 2016 conference play.
On paper, the Owls record during their 2016 campaign looks lackluster only finishing the season two games over .500 at a bleak 29-27, but there is hope. Although the Owls record wasn’t stellar, their Atlantic Sun conference record was an astounding 17-4 and good enough to win them a regular season conference title. With the experience gained from last season, the Owls look to make some noise in their 2017 season.
There’s a lot of buzz about this KSU ball club and for good reason. A lot of factors can determine how well a team will do and one of the most important ones being continuity, and that’s exactly what the Owls have. While it’s hard for some other top programs to retain players from year to year, the Owls are managing to return a whopping 27 players. Amongst those 27 players are three All- Atlantic Sun players in Gabe Friese, Corey Greeson and Austin Upshaw. Most of all, what might make these Owls most dangerous is their versatility, with most players being to play multiple positions.
Kennesaw’s baseball team has many strong areas on highlighted by their infield which is four of five starters and their pitching staff, which looks to be deepest in the conference. The Owls infield is anchored by the only senior of the bunch, Jeremy Howell and 2016 Atlantic Sun All-Freshman, David Chabut. Junior Grant Williams comes into the 2017 season on a 13-game hitting streak and ended the 2016 with 17 multi-hit games. The pitching staff returns three starting pitchers to the rotation in A.J. Moore, Tony Dibrell and Gabe Friese who had a combined 199 strikeouts.
The owls Saw one of their own getting drafted to the big league, as catcher Brennan Morgan was drafted by the Angels. For most college ball clubs this would pose as huge problem, but the owls have a dynamic duo sharing catching duties with Griffin “Gainz’ Helms and Forrest Bramlett. Helms batted .376 last year and Bramlett is a Transfer from Tennessee/GPC in who redshirted all of last season. Freshman Daniel Seres is also on this list, but don’t expect him to see much time this season.
Versatility is the word that best describes the Owls outfield with many players moving around and playing multiple positions. You can catch Corey Greeson playing in the outfield and field; also keep an eye for Chris Ewrin playing centerfield on the weekend and taking the mound during the week. With Justin and Motley and Alex Liquori graduating, there is ample opportunity for younger players like sophomore Taylor Allum, Terrence Norman, and Garret Hodges.
With few holes on the roster and a stable of returning talent, the owls look to dominate the Atlantic Sun 2017. The Owls first game is February 17th against Western Michigan University. The Owls will then host five straight home games through the 26th.
Men’s Basketball Team Coming Alive To End Season
With just one game remaining on the season, the Kennesaw State men’s basketball team looks towards finishing a positive regular season in strong fashion.
Ideally, a strong finish would allow the team to host their first Atlantic Sun Conference tournament game. The team’s overall record currently sits at 13-16. While they are under .500 on their overall season, their conference record of 7-6 put the Owls in a great position to earn a home game to tip-off the tournament.
Led by Senior Kendrick Ray and Junior Nick Masterson, the team has developed into an explosive offense throughout the season. Ray, in the last season of a remarkable career, has scored at an incredible clip – averaging 21.4 points per game (2nd in A-Sun Conference) and shooting 45.9% from the field. As for Masterson, he seems to be struggling to miss from the three-point line this season. Shooting a remarkable three-point shooting percentage of 53.0%, Masterson leads the entire NCAA in shooting percentage by a considerable margin. Since January 14, the Owls have put up 80 points on five different occasions during a solid 6-3 stretch. Throughout the offensive frenzy, the team seems to be coming alive late and winning games that they were failing to win earlier in the season. One aspect of this team that cannot be debated is their will to win, as four out of their last six wins have come with a margin of victory of four or fewer points.
Saturday, the Owls played the University of North Florida in a crucial game to their placement in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. North Florida came into the game with a one game lead over Kennesaw State in the conference standings, but the Owls came primed for action. After opening the game on a 23-2 run, the team did not look back. In the end, the Owls beat North Florida 85-68, and set a Kennesaw State University single-game record with 27 assists on 51% shooting (35 of 68).
The win puts the Owls in fourth place in the A-Sun Conference. A fourth place finish would give the Owls their very first home game in the A-Sun tournament. This Thursday, the Owls play second-place Lipscomb in a detrimental game. With a win, the Owls would secure a huge home game in the conference tournament. With that being said, support from the student body could be a make or break for your very own Kennesaw State Owls basketball team! So do yourself, as well as your team, a favor and come out to the Kennesaw State University Convocation Center on Thursday, February 23rd at 7:00pm.